The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy
(New York: Pegasus Books, 2019).
This is the story of the unique friendship between Lee and Jackson, two leaders who chiseled a strategic path forward against the odds and almost triumphed.
Why was the partnership between Generals Lee and Jackson so important to the South’s bid for independence? What was it about their styles, friendship, even their faith, that cemented them together into a fighting machine that consistently won despite often overwhelming odds against them?
The Great Partnership has the power to change how we think about Confederate strategic decision-making and the value of personal relationships among senior leaders responsible for organizational survival. Those relationships in the Confederate high command were particularly critical for victory, especially the one that existed between the two great Army of Northern Virginia generals.
It has been over two decades since any author attempted a joint study of the two leaders. This book will inspire lively debate among students of Civil War history and significantly revise how we evaluate Confederate strategy at the height of the war. Perhaps most importantly, Christian B. Keller’s engaging narrative will help us understand why, in the end, the South lost.
Winner, Douglas Southall Freeman History Award, 2020
Finalist, Gilder Lehrman Best Book in Military History Prize, 2019
"Christian B. Keller re-examines the professional and personal relationship between the two gray chieftans...An intriguing blend of battlefield history, leadership manual, and character portrait of Lee and Jackson...A crisp, balanced and insightful analysis of the pressures of command a compelling exploration of what might have been."
—THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"Christian Keller has proven once again that we can still learn much from the history of the American Civil War. The Great Partnership is a thought-provoking book on leadership relations based on the mostly successful partnership of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson."
—THE NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
“Making use of letters, diaries, and memoirs, many well-known to experts, Keller adds a new and important dimension to the historiography surrounding Lee and Jackson ... Readers interested in the American Civil War and its leaders will find much to enjoy in this fresh, new interpretation.”
“A well-researched and well-written narrative that seamlessly combines military strategy and human lives together in a way that is compelling for both historians and general readers.”
—CIVIL DISCOURSE: A BLOG OF THE LONG CIVIL WAR ERA
“Keller goes to great lengths to illustrate a deep, genuine friendship that develops between Lee and Jackson, transcending their professional relationship but making it more effective. Keller’s forceful argument of that interpretation makes a worthwhile addition to the long historical conversation about the two men… An excellent analysis of the impact of Jackson’s death on Lee and the command structure of the Army of Virginia.”
—CHRIS MACKOWSKI, Civil War Book Review
“A fresh reappraisal that should thoroughly engage even the most skeptical readers, Christian Keller's The Great Partnership combines sound, perceptive analysis with a deft sifting through postwar myth and legend to present a new and unfailingly interesting examination of what made the command team of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson so militarily effective. In recognizing that the influence of Lee and Jackson extended well beyond their own army, the book also informatively explores what the famous partnership meant to Confederate national fortunes before and after Jackson's death.”
—CIVIL WAR BOOKS AND AUTHORS
“A masterpiece of original and seminal historical scholarship.”
—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
"Christian B. Keller’s perceptive assessment of Robert E. Lee and ‘Stonewall’ Jackson reminds us that command relationships profoundly shaped the course of the Civil War. Keller’s analysis of Jackson’s contribution to the partnership, the impact of operations in the Eastern Theater, and the degree to which personal and professional ties intersected should spark a good deal of discussion among those interested in the Confederacy’s premier army and its most famous commanders."
—GARY W. GALLAGHER, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War Emeritus, University of Virginia, and author of Lee and His Army in Confederate History
"The partnership of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson reshaped the course of the Civil War in the East in a span of roughly a year from the spring of 1862 to the latter’s death in May 1863. In his The Great Partnership, Christian Keller explores anew this well-studied relationship in a fresh, insightful, and persuasive work. This book will kindle debate, generate controversy, and reframe old arguments. Simply put, it is good history."
—JEFFRY D. WERT, author of A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863
"With The Great Partnership, historian Christian B. Keller has given us an elegantly written, refreshingly original, and thoroughly convincing assessment of the command relationship between Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, as well as the lessons it provides to modern leaders. I highly recommend The Great Partnership both to general readers and students of the war."
—PETER COZZENS, author of The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West and Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign
"The partnership between Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee had no parallel in the Confederate armies. And thanks to Christian Keller we have a beautifully written narrative that captures the high drama of Lee’s and Jackson’s military operations. Not since Douglas Southall Freeman have we encountered a historian who writes with as much grace and sophistication about the Confederate high command as Keller."
—PETER S. CARMICHAEL, Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College, and author of The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies
"Christian Keller cuts through the Lost Cause haze and a century of debate to give us our clearest view yet of arguably the most important and effective partnership of the American Civil War. He argues persuasively for both the strategic and cultural importance of the Lee-Jackson combine, offering along the way much for modern leaders and students to consider. Dr. Keller weaves narrative and analysis brilliantly, artfully spanning the rarely crossed chasm between academic and public history. This is an important, thoughtful book, well done."
—JOHN HENNESSY, author of Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas
"Students of strategy and tactics, as well as of the Civil War, will find this a useful look at a storied partnership."